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The City Journals

Summit Vista residents remain 100% COVID-19 free as several learn how to make pet toys from ‘junk’

Sep 14, 2020 04:11PM ● By Carl Fauver

Pam Mullins was among the Summit Vista residents who learned, via Zoom, how to make dog and cat toys from recyclable materials. (Summit Vista)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

A lot can change in half a year. We’ve perhaps all learned that more over the past six months than ever before.

Back in the March edition of the Taylorsville Journal, you read a story about the first-ever wedding held the Summit Vista (3400 West 6200 South) senior living community. You also read about hundreds of Calvin Smith Elementary School students making pet toys, from recyclable materials.

A couple of words you did not see in that issue were: “coronavirus,” “social distancing,” “COVID-19” or “quarantine.”

Kids are no longer gathering in tight quarters to make pet toys, and Summit Vista residents are no longer assembling to wish brides and grooms good luck.

But dogs and cats at the Taylorsville-West Valley City Animal Shelter (4522 West 3500 South) still want toys, while Summit Vista residents still want things to do, particularly community service activities.

“We have a lot of talented residents who are frustrated they cannot go out to do their normal volunteer work,” said Summit Vista Community Life Coordinator Debbie White. “This project gives them a chance to do their thing and feel good about giving back to the community. We have a lot of residents who are willing to try new things.”

Fifteen of those residents participated in a recent pet toy-making project, taught to them over Zoom by a pair of Taylorsville animal advocates, Lynette Wendel and Janice Fields.

“These are the same dog and cat toys—made from old socks, water bottles, toilet paper rolls and small bells—that we taught the elementary school kids to make earlier this year,” Wendel said. “Summit Vista residents are so engaged and such a big part of our community. We wanted to make sure they have an outlet to remain active.”

Truth be told, the toys are incredibly simple to make, so the bulk of the session was spent chit-chatting. At one point each resident was asked “What kind of animal would you like to be?” For the record, winged creatures won the day, including a butterfly, ladybug and hummingbird, although otter, shark and puppy were also mentioned.

“In a recent survey of our residents, 95% said they feel safe and confident with how our staff is addressing coronavirus concerns, and many said there is nowhere else they would rather be during this pandemic,” said Summit Vista Community Life Director Raquel Braithwaite. “But we are continually looking for ways to keep our community active during this time. I had talked with Lynette [Wendel] about a pet toy-making class before COVID-19 arrived. So now we thought we could do it over Zoom.”

Nearly six months into the pandemic, there have still been no COVID-19 cases among Summit Vista residents and only two on staff.  Both of those employees have recovered from the virus and are back to work.

“We are still only allowing essential visitors inside our facilities, but back in June we began allowing friends and family members to safe-distance gather with our residents outside,” Braithwaite said. “We have a great patio area that is shady in the morning. We encourage people to wear masks but do not require it. During one recent visit, one of our resident’s relatives was playing bagpipes.”

Wendel said she may even be able to find a couple of homes for animal shelter pets at the senior living community.

“They have a very pet-friendly policy at Summit Vista,” she said. “We have discussed setting up pet adoptions for residents there.  We may also create a seniors for seniors foster program, where older people take in an older dog or cat.”

During the Zoom session Wendel reported, 68% of Utah households have a pet, while only 27% have children.

Summit Vista officials say the first pet toy-making Zoom class was a hit, and they may hold future sessions—at least until they can again host weddings and school kids can return to making the items for dogs and cats.